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Swiss wine from Sicily 

When it comes to food on board, regional products are a priority for Edelweiss. This also applies to Palmeri Wines. Though grown in Sicily, Palmeri is a genuine Swiss product.

The manner in which Ueli Breitschmid -owner of the organic vineyard “Sitenrain” in Meggen (Switzerland)- came upon the Palmeri estate was a serendipitous happening. Having spent several holidays in Sicily, Ueli wanted to purchase a holiday residence on the island. Around about that time, a honey seller told him that an estate near the town of Avola in the southeast of the island was up for sale. Breitschmid who started out in the dental technician business has always been something of a pioneer. His passion for grapevines began on a field in Meggen which he decided to cultivate with the declared aim of creating the largest vineyard in Central Switzerland. Today, that very vineyard produces award-winning wines.

The Breitschmid family have owned Tanuta Palmeri since 2002. The first bottling of their Sicilian wine was in 2011. It has been served on Edelweiss flights since June 2016.

Seventeen acres of fertile soil

Many legends are told about the name of the estate. According to one such legend, peace negotiations were held there after an armed conflict and a palm branch presented on concluding those negotiations. Be that as it may, when the Breitschmid family laid eyes on this beautiful southern Sicilian country estate, the erstwhile residence of a prominent family from Avola for two centuries, it was love at first sight.

The estate consists of a main building and several smaller buildings. Some of these have been converted into holiday flats. Others have been left in their original state to preserve their bucolic charm. Palmeri also includes seven acres of land on which lemons, oranges, olives, almonds, pomegranates and jasmine blossoms are grown. The latter are harvested to produce perfume.

Fine wines from oak barrels

Farming on the Palmeri estate is organic, meaning that no chemicals are used for pest control. Needless to say, this also applies to viticulture. In 2005, so-called non-processed seedlings of the grapes Nero d’Avola, Merlot, Ancelotta, Syrah and Petit Verdot were planted on 11 acres of the Palmeri land. Because the shoots were simply pressed into the soil for rooting, they developed a high resistance to heat and drought. In the summer that followed, the seedlings were refined in the Sicilian sun by a specialist (in combination with a robust underlay to make them less susceptible to pests). The first full grape harvest took place in summer 2008 – manually of course.

With the aid of a professional oenologist, Palmeri Wines are processed in the Palmeri wine cellar and aged in oak barrels from Cognac. The first Palmeri Wines were bottled in July 2011.

Dense dark red, intense bouquet and a soft, smoky finish

The results of this Swiss-Sicilian connection are called Palmeri Rosso, Palmeri Bianco and Palmeri Blu. The Rosso – the red wine – can be enjoyed by Business Class passengers on all Edelweiss flights. This wine is a blend of five different grapes: Marcelan (43 %), Cabernet Sauvignon (9 %), Merlot (36 %), Syrah (7 %) und Petit Verdot (5 %). Fermentation occurs in an oak container. Ageing spans sixteen months and takes place in used barriques. The Rosso wine boasts a dense dark red colour and intense bouquet reminiscent of sour cherries and dried fruit. It has a slightly smoky finish and is best enjoyed with meat or –unsurprisingly– with a plate of original Italian pasta. Needless to say, a glass of Palmeri Rosso is also a treat for the palate when savoured on its own – and not just on Edelweiss flights to Sicily.

But especially passengers flying to Catania with Switzerland’s leading leisure travel airline should seize the opportunity to savour a glass of red wine or two. Those interested in visiting the Breitschmid family –or even helping with wine-making- are welcome to do so. The estate is still primarily the Breitschmid’s second home. But visitors are welcome in the converted adjacent buildings of the estate – including guests who would like to lend a hand (information: www.tenutapalmeri.it ).

Serendipity for Edelweiss passengers

For the Breitschmids, having fun means sharing with others. So when Ueli Breitschmid went out looking for honey all those years ago, his find of a vineyard that produces fine wines which can now be enjoyed on Switzerland’s leading leisure travel airline deserves to be referred to as serendipitous.